Double Edged Sword: Deportation Force//Immigrant Travel Ban


Donald Trump made clear from the day he entered the presidential race  –when he called Mexicans, “rapists and murderers” – that he harbored prejudices against  undocumented immigrants.  We never knew if he was aware that millions of men and women from Mexico and other Central American countries have worked and paid taxes for decades. They are an essential part of our agriculture and service  industries throughout the United States.    During the campaign, we heard Trump criticize Judge Gonzalo Curiel as “biased since he was Mexican”.   The judge  ruled against him in a case brought by former students at Trump University.   Judge Curiel, who was born in Indiana, had parents who came from Mexico.

In contrast to John F. Kennedy, who wrote of the United States as “A Nation of Immigrants” , Donald Trump emphasizes “America First” as his motto..  One wonders if he knows what that slogan of Charles Lindbergh meant in the 1920’s.  At that time, it conjured up admiration of Hitler’s Nazi Germany, pure Aryan white people, devoid of other lesser peoples of mixed races and inferior religions.  He probably would be shocked to learn that African Americans are described in history textbooks as 14th generation Americans.  Except for the native Americans,  the rest of Americans are from more recent immigrant generations.  The most important symbol concerning immigration is the Statue of Liberty, built in France in tribute to our shared ideals of freedom.  She stands in the waters of New York Harbor to welcome peoples from across the globe to our shores.

During our history, we have at times excluded certain peoples on the basis of their nationality .  The Chinese Exclusion Act of l882 was the first such law enacted.  In 1924, after World War I,  a Quota System was passed that favored immigration from northern and western European countries with quotas in large numbers.   Southern and Eastern countries were given quotas with small numbers    Thus, British Isles, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany and Scandinavia had large quota numbers.  Russia, Poland, Czechloslovakia, Yugoslavia, Albania, Italy and Greece had small numbers. Those people often waited years or decades.   This system remained in effect until 1965, when the Lyndon Johnson presidency eliminated the quota system entirely. The Trump Travel Executive Order would be banning immigrants from foreign countries once more based on their nationality.

Deportation Force:  During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump warned that undocumented aliens “routinely victimize Americans”,  “disregard the rule of law” and “pose a threat” to people in communities across the United States.  On February 22, 2017, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security , retired General John Kelly, released memos that laid out  new  rules affecting  eleven million undocumented immigrants.  The rules were comprehensive , broadening enforcement policies to include even minor offenses.  There was a broad phrase that would allow I.C.E. (Immigration and Customs  Enforcement) officers or Border Patrol agents, or local police officers   or sheriff’s deputies to take in anyone who they think could be “a risk to public safety or “national security”.    Secretary Kelly asked Congress for funds to hire 10,000 I.C.E. officers and 5,000 Border Patrol Agents.

The new rules also affect the speed with which undocumented immigrants can be deported.  During Obama and Bush years,  immigrants apprehended near the border who had entered recently were subject to immediate deportation.  In the new rules, immigrants caught anywhere in the country who cannot prove they had been here “continuously” for at least two years would be subject to immediate deportation.  Within days, I.C.E. agents  were emboldened and expanded their targets and started roundups.  In Texas and Colorado agents entered courthouses looking for immigrants during hearings.  In Virginia, agents entered a church where immigrants had gathered to stay warm.

The Sanctuary Cities  were ready, They had been preparing  in advance and included Los Angeles,  Chicago, New York, Oakland, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia and others. Mayor Rahm Emanuel in Chicago declared, “it will always be a Sanctuary City”.  All have reaffirmed plans to defy a Trump administration and act as “a bulwark” against mass deportations.  These cities risk losing millions of dollars in federal aid for services like fighting crime and running homeless shelters. They are well aware of this possibility, since Trump has warned to block all federal funding if local officials do not cooperate with I.C.E. agents.   Many city leaders are seeking to calm immigrants fears. Churches and synagogues are offering their houses of worship as sanctuaries. In Oakland, Mayor Schaaf has asked local philanthropists to provide $140 million if federal funds are cut, to sustain low-income pre-school programs and meals for homeless shelters. The largest clash will occur in California which has 2.3 million undocumented immigrants

On February 23,  New York Times reporter Vivian Yee wrote, “ Migrants Hide, Fearing Capture on Any Corner.”  “ No going to church.  No going to the store. No doctors appointments for some. No school for others. No driving, period— not when a broken taillight could deliver the driver to I.C.E.

On February 27, the day before his address to Congress,  Trump spoke to news anchors from cable TV and said he was open to a plan that would allow some immigrants to stay and work toward legal status.  This did not include citizenship, but he did indicate that the Dreamers might be able to reach that goal.  This was a dramatic switch in his former statements and policies.   The next night in his address to joint sessions of Congress,  listeners were shocked to hear him stay with his very tough “immigrant deportation force” position.  There was no mention of the changes he had shared the previous day.  Nor has there been any explanation of why he introduced those ideas at all.

Immigrant Travel Ban:  After Trump issued his first travel ban, known as a Muslim ban,  by executive order.  it was challenged in Washington State and Minnesota by their Attorneys General.  Next, District Court Federal Judge James Robart  issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) which served to halt the chaos at airports in the United States and across the world that had resulted from  the ban being executed without any previous warning.  People with visas and green cards were stopped and detained. Immigration lawyers came to U.S. airports to  aid them.   Trump was furious, called Robart a “ so called judge” and had the justice department appeal the TRO ruling. The Ninth Circuit Appeals Court , accepted the case with three judges hearing arguments from both sides.   Within days, their unamimous decision was shared with the nation and the world by telephone in an hour televised program on major cable networks.  Two of the three judges had been appointed by Democratic presidents; one by a Republican.  Their questions appeared to focus on “evidence” and whether the seven countries listed in the ban, all with a majority of Muslim citizens, had committed any terrorist attacks on the United States.   The answer was “None” from those countries. One judge noted that Trump during his campaign had vowed to block Muslims from coming to the United States, an indication of intent on his part.

Trump’s initial response was to tweet, “ SEE YOU IN COURT. THE SECURITY  OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!” a signal he would go to the Supreme Court.  In the days that followed, that was set aside by a plan to revise and improve the first travel ban.  This process took time with postponements for weeks until Monday, March 6 when the revised Travel Ban was revealed. Some critics called it “Muslim Ban Lite”.  There were now six instead of seven countries, with Iraq no longer on the list. Defense Secretary Mattis had warned that 5000 American troops were in Iraq as advisors in the campaign against ISIS. Iraq had reacted very strongly against the first Immigrant Ban.  President Trump was not present this time, waving his executive order as he had done on January 27.   Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly each spoke briefly.

Another factor had been added on Monday, March 6.  The Trump administration announced a four month suspension of refugee admissions into the United States, “so security procedures can be improved.”  Most significant, the total number of refugees allowed into the country was cut by half from Obama’s 110,000 to 50,000.  More than 37,000 have been admitted since the fiscal year began in October.  Fewer than 12,700 openings remained.

Final note: There were court filings almost immediately from Hawaii and San Francisco against the second travel ban. The process had begun once more, a fresh legal assault on Trump’s immigration policies.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………Joyce S. Anderson






2 thoughts on “Double Edged Sword: Deportation Force//Immigrant Travel Ban

  1. Great summary of a sad chapter in our country. Thank you for writing on the topic of immigration. It is so complicated but it effects all of us.

  2. Excellent review of the immigration issue that continues to warp the very fabric of our country. Since retirement, I have been working with 4th grade public school students one day a week. We have discussed our nation of immigrants extensively, and these kids have a good grasp on the fact that we all came from somewhere else. And in the minds of 9-and-10-year-olds they cannot understand why we are making this a “big deal” (their words). Out of the mouths of babes …..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s